BOSTON (CBS) — It looked like Danny Ainge and the Celtics were smitten with Washington sharp-shooting big man Davis Bertans at last season’s trade deadline. The price was too high for Ainge then, so he walked away and the team did nothing at the deadline.
Now that Bertans is set to hit free agency, maybe Ainge and the C’s will be a little more aggressive if they really want the Latvian Laser. That aggressiveness would entail making a move, since the Celtics are up against the cap and Bertans is set to cash in after a solid season with the Wizards.
A sign-and-trade would be the likeliest avenue at getting Bertans to Boston, and it just so happens that teams are reaching out to Washington about such a scenario.
Multiple teams without the cap room to sign Bertans are preparing to make sign-and-trade offers in free agency, NBC Sports Washington has learned. That is in addition to the teams that have the cap room to fit his salary without a trade.
The teams were not specified, though one source said there are two Eastern Conference teams and one from the West who are interested in sign-and-trade scenarios involving Bertans.
Along with the Celtics, the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks were reportedly in on Bertans at the trade deadline, and will likely be in the mix this offseason. Both of those Eastern Conference foes have plenty of cap space to work with though, and would be able to sign Bertans outright. In the West, the L.A. Lakers and Denver Nuggets both reportedly explored a Bertans trade last season.
A four-year vet, Bertans averaged a career-best 15.4 points off 43 percent shooting last season. He hit an efficient 42 percent of his shots from downtown, and would be an instant fit in Brad Stevens’ offense. Ainge said the Celtics need shooting on Wednesday, and Bertans would fit that bill while giving Boston a lot more offense out of the center position.
But coming off a two-year, $14 million contract, Bertans is going to want a raise — one the Celtics won’t be able to give to him without a sign-and-trade. So if the C’s do want Bertans this offseason, Ainge is going to have to be a lot more aggressive and creative than he was at the trade deadline.